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Bee hive vase (vase ruche no. 1): C.3.2 & A-1955

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


Bee hive vase (vase ruche no. 1)


Production: Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory


  • Vase
  • Cover
  • Other name: vase ruche no. 1
  • Factory name: vase ruche



Soft-paste porcelain beehive vase and cover, decorated with gilding

Soft-paste porcelain vase and cover, moulded, glazed, and gilded, with a probably hard-paste porcelain base, glazed, and gilded. The vase is in the shape of a slender beehive made of wickerwork, pierced at the base The cover is moulded to resemble thatch and has a ring handle composed of a doubled over sheaf of corn, tied at the junction with the cover, so that ears of corn radiate from it. Two of each group of three vertical osiers on the vase, the corn stalks and the edges of the thatch on the cover are gilded. The vase stands on a separate square base, decorated with gold scrolls round the outer edges, to which it is attached by bolts. One of a pair with C.3.1 & A-1955


History note: Posibly Baudin Collection; sold Paris, 12-13 January 1843, lot 131, 'Deux vases a ruche, imitation de Saxe'. Collection of M. Lion of Paris from whom was purchased by Mr Cecil Gould; purchased for £450 and given by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum, June 1955

Legal notes

Given by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Measurements and weight

Height: 24.7 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Sèvres ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1955-05-26) by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum


Mid-18th Century
Circa 1768 CE - 1769 CE


This rare model was the first of two beehive-shaped ornamental vases produced by Sèvres. The plaster model (without a base) was no. 25 in the 1814 inventory of work 1740-80, and was illustrated by Albert Troude as ‘vase ruche, no. 1’. On accession this vase and its pair (C.3.2 & A-1955) were attributed to Vincennes, but this is not supported by the only documentary records so far found for them by Tamara Préaud, the archivist at Sèvres, which were in 1769 and 1775. The inventory of stock taken on 1 January 1769 listed two vases and their bases in the biscuit ready for glazing, valued at 48 livres each. Four 'vase ruche' were recorded as having fired successfully in the 'Etat de défournement de Couverte du 1er Avril 1769', under moulded pieces (Bibl. d’Institut de France MS 5675, p. 44).This suggests that two were made between 1 January and 1 April. In December 1769 a pair were recorded in the sale's records as bought by the duc de Praslin for 240 livres each. (Vy 4 fol. 193), which might have been the Fitzwilliam's pair. Two vases russe in the white at 48 livres were listed in the inventory of 1 January 1774 and two were sold to a Madame Luillier on 7 August 1775 for 120 livres each (Vy5, 23). It was not uncommon to add bases of hard-paste Sèvres or other porcelain to soft-paste vases in the early 19th century. For example, a Vincennes vase Parseval of 1751-2 in the Belvedere Collection has an added Sèvres base of 1821 (Documentation, Gwilt, 2014). It is not known when the bases to this pair were added.

School or Style


Components of the work

Base composed of hard-paste porcelain ( probably) glaze Height 5.1 cm
Body And Cover composed of lead-glaze soft-paste porcelain
Decoration composed of gold
Vase And Cover

Techniques used in production

Moulding : Soft-paste porcelain vase with (probably) a hard-paste porcelain base, with moulded cover and gilded decoration.

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.3.2 & A-1955
Primary reference Number: 93540
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 18 January 2023 Last processed: Wednesday 18 January 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Bee hive vase (vase ruche no. 1)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-05-28 21:55:40

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